Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Monday hit out at developed countries for questioning India’s credentials in curbing environmental pollution and said those who “lecture” the country “refuse” to provide nuclear fuel for clean energy.
Asserting that India was committed to promoting clean energy, including nuclear, he said India has “not been” sufficiently projected on the global arena and occasionally perceived to be a barrier in the global climate change fight.
The prime minister also urged the world to “ease restrictions” for India on import of nuclear fuel so that India could also produce clean nuclear energy in a big way.
In an apparent reference to western countries which are not providing nuclear fuel to energy-starved India, Modi noted the country has taken several initiatives in clean energy sector, including solar and wind.
“See the irony. The world gives lectures on climate, but if we tell them we want to move forward in nuclear energy as it is a good path for environment protection and when we ask them to provide necessary fuel for nuclear energy, they refuse,” he said.
Modi, addressing a conference of state environment ministers and officials, launched the National Air Quality Index in 10 cities to monitor pollution levels.
This comes in the backdrop of criticism by western countries on the very “unhealthy” air quality in India’s metros, including the national capital which has been termed as one of the most polluted cities prompting many embassies and other international establishments to install air purifiers.
The prime minister observed that “wrong” impressions have been projected about India that it was neither concerned about climate nor environment.
“Everybody has come to believe that the world is concerned about climate change but India is posing hurdles... We have grown up in a culture where nature is worshipped like god and protecting nature is linked to humanity.
“But due to some reasons, maybe we have been ruled by others for centuries, we are inhibited in expressing our view. Till the time we gain confidence in ourselves, we will not be able deal with the problem,” he said.
Modi said protecting the environment is “in our tradition” and rather than following others, India should lead the world in finding solutions to the issue of global warming.